Congratulations to UARR Board Member Suze Morrison on her Election to the Provincial Legislator

SuzeMorrisonNDP

The Board of Directors, Staff and Members and Friends of the Urban Alliance on Race Relations extend our deepest and warmest CONGRATULATIONS to Board Member Suze Morrison on her election to the Provincial Legislature. Suze is the first successful NDP candidate in the Toronto Centre riding which she will be representing.

Suze brings a long list of achievements to Queen’s Park. Her platform and policies were informed by her Indigenous heritage and her experience as a committed advocate for equity and social justice.

We are proud of Suze and wish her a long and successful career in politics.

UARR Board, Staff, Members, Friends
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Email Doug Ford and the PC Caucus: DQ Tanya Granic Allen

As reported in the media, the Progressive Conservative potential candidate for Mississauga Centre, Tanya Granic Allen has made some inflammatory comments spreading homophobia and Islamophobia.

Please visit this site and send an email directly to Doug Ford and the PC Caucus asking to disqualify Tanya Granic Allen.

April 11 is known as The Day of Pink which is the International Day against Bullying, Discrimination, Homophobia, Transphobia, and Transmisogyny across the world. On this day let’s send the right message to our communities and make sure our province does not have representatives who work against Canada’s values of diversity and inclusion.

UARR and community partners commends #TDSB Enhanced Equity Report

Jan 31th, 2018

There have been chronic systemic issues that have affected Indigenous, Black and marginalized populations of students in this province for decades. Over that time, many generations of our children have been lost in spite of communities coming forward and raising their voices asking for change.

We would like to commend the Toronto District School Board for the bold actions outlined in the Directors Response to the Enhancing Equity Taskforce Report – we believe this may start to move us in the right direction.

  • The recognition of systemic racism in the education system is important, and allows those who have been left behind to feel included in the solution.
  • The elimination of streaming is a long overdue action, and we congratulate the Board in identifying and taking leadership to stop this practice.
  • Providing human rights and anti-oppression training to all staff is incredibly important to allow teachers to gain the valuable training and understandings that will help them serve students better.
  • We also welcome increased parent and student voice and in reviewing the allocation of resources, to ensure equitable access to help those in most need.
  • We appreciate the recognition, that opportunity must be provided on an equal basis, and that those who lack access to wealth must be treated with the same dignity provided to those in wealthier areas.
  • Programs that assist students increase their success no matter where they are delivered must be continued, but additional supports to those lacking in resources should also be provided greater commitment.
  • Including Anti-Racism, Anti-Oppression, Human Rights and Indigenous Educational lenses is crucial to create an educational environment and gives respect to everyone from different histories.
  • The review of policies, and system re-allocation of resources, as well as a focus on hiring practices is all critical.
  • We also appreciate the strategy for Black Student Achievement and Excellence given the historic and current disparities that exist. We believe that finding solutions that continue to affect Black students will allow us to support all children more successfully. We hope that a similar focus on Indigenous students will also occur given the intergenerational realities that exist and we understand though, that Indigenous issues will not happen in an Equity report.

We were disappointed that the recommendation to establish a Centre of Excellence for Black Student Achievement within the TDSB, focused upon research and generating solutions and support for Black students and their families, was not included in the Task Force Report. Given the Report’s limited attention to Anti-Black Racism, which is clearly a significant problem in the school system, we hope that you will consider incorporating the creation of this Centre into your recommendations.

Additionally, we hope that the Ministry of Education and the Anti-Racism directorate support the TDSB to get the supports needed and ensure this plan’s implementation and success.

These measures are all needed, however, we must not just write policies, but act upon them with dedication and true commitment and we look forward to working with the Board in making them a reality.

Sincerely,
Nigel Barriffe, President – Urban Alliance on Race Relations

Nour Alideeb, Chairperson/ Président Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario/ Fédération canadienne des étudiantes et étudiants – Ontario

Bernie Farber

Yolanda McLean, President Coalition of Black Trade Unionists

Warren Salmon, President Ontario Alliance of Black School Educators

The Director’s response to the Enhanced Equity Report Recommendations

UARR’s deputation to TDSB on the School Resource Officer program

On Wednesday, November 15, 2017, UARR Board Members Malika Mendez and Ainsworth Spence made the following presentation to the Toronto District School Board regarding the School Resource Officer program.

To the Chair and Trustees of the TDSB:

UARR supports the dissolution of the SRO program. Let us explain why.

One, by quoting from respected sources; two, by examining the genesis of the SRO program; and three, by elaborating on some of the impacts. 

Two quotes from the 2008 Review of the Roots of Violence Report presented by Justice Roy McMurtry and Dr. Alvin Curling are extremely telling. They state that they “were taken aback by the extent to which racism is alive and well and wreaking its deeply harmful effects on Ontarians,” and that they believed “that well-trained and properly paid youth workers can play critical roles in bridging youth, schools and communities.”

In their well-researched and thoughtful analysis, they did not advocate for police officers in schools because they identified “a wide consensus in the community that the safe schools provisions have had a disproportionate impact on racialized students.”

On our next point re: the SRO program. This program began in the US in the early ’50’s at a time when racism was rife and the KKK flourished. It was enforced in many schools located in districts that were classified as poor and where a large percentage of children came from Black households. It was developed in response to the perception that these communities had a greater number of  “delinquent” children.

In this program the word “resource” stands out. A resource is a source of support or supply.  A police officer’s first duty is to enforce the law. A police officer is not a source of support like a social worker or a guidance counsellor, and should not be expected to provide these services. It is not the role of an SRO to deal with the myriad of issues that racialized and marginalized youth face. That is the work of  trained and skilled professionals. The SRO program is a stop-gap substitute. What these youth need are more social workers and more guidance counsellors. Not criminalization.

In regards to some impacts on youth, put yourself in the place of a young child whose family has emigrated from a conflict zone or a war-torn country. Imagine the fear and confusion this child experiences when they are confronted by a uniformed SRO. For many children this conjures the images of violence and fear they encountered in their home country. Add to this the element of opposing cultures, language barriers, religious beliefs, appearance, etc., and we have a situation ripe for misinterpretation. The result is criminalization of  black and racialized youth.

Poor, marginalized, or racialized youth are more likely to be labeled disruptive and their behaviour criminalized , while their peers are more often diagnosed with physiological or mental health issues which are treated. A child with a few suspensions often ends up as being “known” to police. This further stigmatizes him or her. Societal perceptions about Black and racialized groups categorize, stigmatize, and ostracize them.

In conclusion, UARR strongly urges TDSB Trustees to dissolve this program. We urge Trustees to direct resources to providing more social workers, guidance counsellors, and anti-racism training for its staff so that students from Black and racialized communities can realize and share their full potential.

Thank You

Malika Mendez and Ainsworth Spence